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Published on January 3, 2006

Mail Call, Jan. 2

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Opinion

Best form of leadership is that set by example



I am writing in response to the letter in your Dec. 5 issue from Jim Melvin of Tire Pros of Rhode Island regarding automotive service columnist Dan Marinucci's recent column about the lack of work ethic and personal pride among many workers today.


Mr. Melvin commented about a manager Mr. Marinucci discussed in his column. He said this manager who “set a solid example by doing what he's asking his workers to do was a huge and very telling mistake.”


This comment could not be further from the truth.


I do agree somewhat with Mr. Melvin that “employees look for leadership and discipline (even though they don't know it) in the workplace environment.”


While I look for leadership, I cannot say that I seek out discipline, although over the years I have received my share, some deserved and some not.


However, I must say that the greatest form of leadership is by example. How can you expect your people to do things if you are not willing to do them yourself?


When I began what would become a career in the tire business, my first job was with a local, independent dealer with three locations. He had started with one very small store and expanded.


He was and still is a very smart businessman with a successful operation.


The one thing I remember about working for him was his willingness to do whatever task needed to be done.


He was capable of doing nearly every service we offered and insisted on teaching the younger employees—including me—how to do these functions.


Eventually, I left to work for a larger company with many outlets. I met the owner of my new employer only one time for about 10 minutes. The management of that company did not have the hands-on experience or knowledge, and it showed in how they dealt with the customers as well as the staff.


This company is no longer in operation, and I have to wonder if perhaps some of its demise was caused in part by being out of touch with its staff.


Several years ago I left the retail side of the tire business and moved to my current employer, a successful independent wholesaler. The similarities between my first employer and my current one are many.


Both are headed by successful and hands-on owners who are willing to do what is needed to succeed and are not inclined to ask their people to perform tasks they are not willing to do themselves.


So to answer Mr. Melvin's challenge: “Think about your best bosses over the years and think about what they did to make themselves successful,” I think being a business owner in touch with your staff and not above getting “dirty” is what made them successful and keeps the success coming.


I personally would find it hard to work for somebody who made demands of their staff which they were not willing to handle themselves. I don't expect my boss to do certain tasks that I now handle, but I know that if needed, he is willing and capable of doing them.


Jay Postlethwait


General sales manager


Silver State Tire Inc.


California Division


Sparks, Nev.

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